John Shine of the National Consumer Agency was on Drivetime (7th item) yesterday talking about a recent case of car clocking. This practice, which is prohibited by the Consumer Protection Act 2007, involves tampering with the odometers of used cars to significantly reduce their mileage readings.
According to Mr. Shine this lucrative criminal activity is widespread. In addition to being a major rip off, the scam could also pose serious safety problems for consumers.
We’ve been told for some time now that the NCA has new powers, that they are prepared to use them to protect the interests of consumers and Mr. Shine was clear; the NCA considers this kind of activity quite a significant problem.
So, what action did they take to protect the consumer when Orange Motors Limited of Limerick was caught in the act? Well, they politely asked the company to give a formal undertaking not to engage in such naughty activities in the future.
So, why didn’t the NCA prosecute these people? We find the astonishing answer on their website.
“While the NCA has power to prosecute the company for engaging in these practices, this could take some time, and, in the meantime, other consumers could be misled.”
I could make an attempt to analyse this idiotic statement but I don’t think my sanity could stand the test. This episode does, however, tell us a number of things.
The NCA is still a useless defender of consumer interests. It is a lightweight organisation hopelessly out of its depth in a sea of sharks.
Dodgy car dealers all over the country will be greatly encouraged by the pathetic efforts of this toothless tiger.
As for long suffering consumers – The will continue to be victims.